Seeding oats in late-July or early-August following wheat for an early-October harvest deserve to be a helpful low-cost alternative for prolonging forage supplies. Oats deserve to make great feed when harvested in ~ the correct stage of maturity and also made right into “oatlage” or baleage. Oats are much more frost tolerant in the autumn than sorghums, and also can proceed growth after part frost. The challenges can occasionally be lack of sufficient moisture in August, and having dry sufficient weather in October for enough wilting. Oats can additionally be pastured if fence is available.

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Oats typically require around 60 job of growth following germination to with the boot-stage. However, summer seeded oats have tendency to mature much more slowly together days shorten in the fall, so might require an additional 10 days or so. Oats seeded top top August 1st would typically be ready to harvest in early-October.

Many favor to no-till drill oats right into wheat stubble to save time and moisture. Volunteer wheat will certainly also provide forage, although winter wheat will certainly not type a stem in the autumn to provide significant growth. Different seeding techniques are to broadcast the oats and also then combine them with a light disc or cultivator, or come seed right into a all set seedbed utilizing a typical drill. Summer seeded oats are frequently seeded at around 100 lbs per acre (3 bu/ac).


There space oat ranges specifically marketed as “forage” varieties. They often tend to be higher yielding, later on maturing, and with less condition resistance. However, Ontario walk not have a third-party forage oat selection testing program to evaluate selection performance and seed agency claims. Countless producers use double-cleaned or weed-free bin-run oats to minimization costs.

Forage Quality

Stage that maturity for optimum forage top quality is in ~ the “boot-stage” (head start to emerge from sheet whirl). Harvest at the boot-stage, fall grown oats are highly digestible and palatable. Through cooler temperatures and shorter days, autumn grown oats regularly have higher digestible power than spring seeded oats. Boot-stage oatlage is terrific feed for dairy heifers and beef cows, but may not be sufficient to incorporate in high creating dairy cow rations. In ~ the boot-stage, cereals are typically around 16.5% crude protein and 54% NDF with great fibre digestibility. Once headed, nutritional quality declines rapidly. Harvest at the top or early-milk stages will certainly provide more yield, but will have actually much reduced digestible energy and protein. Wet chemistry fairly than NIRS laboratory analysis of grain forage is recommended.

Harvest Moisture

Drying oats come the desired harvest moisture throughout October weather deserve to be challenging. Days room cool and also short, dews room heavy, and “rain delays” while lie in a swath deserve to be significant.

Oats, Barley, Triticale, Peas?

Many uncover that oat forage is the most palatable of the cereals. Part producers stop barley and also triticale since of concerns about feeding the awns. Oats often tend to out-yield barley once establishment conditions are poor. Triticale seeds is expensive and also hard come source. At the same stage that maturity, oats, barley and triticale space very similar in feed quality.

Cereal-pea mixtures are famous as a feather seeded companion crop. Peas included to cereals boost forage quality, but do no necessarily increase yields. Summer seeded peas dislike hot, dry problems even more than cereals. Pea growth is often quite variable depending upon moisture. Peas are much more succulent and greater in moisture than oats, and also can be very an overwhelming to wilt in the fall. Pea mixtures might lie in the swath for an extended period of time through the hazard of gift rained-on. Lush cereal-pea mixtures have the right to be challenging to cut. Particle is more expensive. In spite of these concerns, peas enhance forage quality where meeting high nutritional needs is a priority, such as for high developing dairy cows. If a cereal-pea mixture is sown to improve feed quality, at the very least 50% must be peas, with a total seeding price of about 110 – 120 lbs/ac. This will frequently increase crude protein by 2 – 4% and decrease NDF by 2 – 4.5% over right cereals.

Fertilizer, Insects and also Disease?

Nitrogen (N) is essential for reasonable forage yields. Manure or fertilizer can supply N, however growth without nitrogen will certainly be really disappointing. Use 50 lbs/acre of yes, really N for enough growth before tillering (3 weeks after ~ germination). P and also K will be gotten rid of in the forage, however it is not important to replace or include any ns or K throughout the development of the emergency forage crop.

Crown rust is a potential problem in summer seeded oats. Crown rust have the right to defoliate the oat crop and also decimate returns if epidemic is severe. Monitor and apply a fungicide if condition levels warrant. Describe OMAFRA publication 812, Field chop Protection guide www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/pub812/4ocrust.htm.

Summer seeded cereals are an ext susceptible to aphids, which subsequently vector the condition Barley Yellow Dwarf Virus (BYDV). BYDV deserve to severely stunt the crop, and also dramatically reduce forage yields. Cruiser seed treatment supplies early-growth regulate of aphids.

Fall Rye, Winter Wheat or Winter Triticale?

If forage is necessary next spring rather than this fall, winter cereals space an option. This winter-annual crops will out-yield summer seeded yearly cereals harvested in the fall. Fall rye grown because that silage can administer a far-reaching amount the feed, but must be harvest at the correct stage of maturity for forage quality (flag-leaf come boot-stage). This will frequently occur in early-May, and then another crop can be planted. (Fall Rye because that Silage www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/facts/fallrye.htm) little research data exists because that winter triticale grown as a forage in Ontario. Some new York research argues winter triticale yields deserve to be greater than rye or wheat.

Other Forage Options?

Do not ignore wheat areas that have actually red clover underseeded. Red clover makes wonderful feed because that high creating dairy cows. Describe “Red Clover Haylage” www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/facts/info_redclover_haylage.htm.

Other species, together as yearly ryegrass or sorghum-sudan grass, have not had great success under Ontario problems when planted ~ wheat harvest.

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Yields highly Variable

Winterkill, frost damage, insect damage and also dry weather have all take away the toll on forage production this year. Forage yields room expected to be considerably reduced, and many farmers are concerned about having sufficient forage gives to meet the requirements of their livestock. Returns of summer seeded cereals are highly variable, but under good conditions dry matter yields are commonly in the 1 – 1.75 tonne/acre range or more. In years of tight forage supplies, every bit counts. Cereals can be a great low-cost emergency forage choice if stylish rainfall is got for germination and growth. The the cereals, oats space the most readily available, and give the finest yields and also returns because that the dollars invested. Peas deserve to be included where higher forage high quality is required.